American Lose Faith in Pretty Much All Big Organizations, Especially Banks and Corporations

The Financial Times reports on an international poll by the consulting firm Edelman to be presented at Davos on Wednesday on public trust in various types of institutions. The interesting finding is that Americans are becoming less confident in all types of organizations, which is contrary to the trend in most other nations, where perceptions are rising.

And perhaps most important, the poll was of people most likely to have a favorable view of the current power structure, namely, 5000 well schooled, wealthy and “well informed” participants (does “well informed” mean they read the oracles of orthodox opinion, like the Economist and the New York Times?). If the people who are likely to be beneficiaries of the status quo aren’t too happy with it, imagine what the average Joe thinks.

From the Financial Times (hat tip Joe Costello):

Just 46 per cent of Americans last year said they trusted business, down eight points from 2009, according to research by Edelman, a communications consultancy, which will be presented on Wednesday. Global trust in business was up two points to 56 per cent, by contrast.

The US decline has been driven by a backlash against bankers and their bonuses, with the number of Americans who trust US banks dropping to a low of 25 per cent, down from 33 per cent a year ago and 71 per cent before the financial crisis.

To quote the famous prognosticator Bill Clinton, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

But no one trust banks much, but we Americans have a better view of them than our peers in the UK and Ireland. So I guess all that Team Obama bank PR really has had an impact on poll readings. I’m sure their masters at Davos will be happy to see what a good return they have gotten on their investment.

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  1. Doc Holiday

    At least Obama didn’t wear a Mao Suit tonight in the SOTU — no one would have noticed (anyway) and as usual the PPT is ready to buy the dip.

    so sad

  2. R Foreman

    So they comatized the people and jacked them into the matrix, and now they’re surprised when the stupid humans keep waking up ? But, but, the matrix was designed to be a perfect replacement for reality ! Bernanke clearly didn’t see the movie if he thinks his version of reality is going to satisfy people for very long.

    1. DownSouth

      R Foreman said: “Bernanke clearly didn’t see the movie if he thinks his version of reality is going to satisfy people for very long.”

      That’s pretty much my take.

      From the conservative viewpoint, there aren’t enough people who still believe in the old conservative morality that says we can measure the political and social affairs of human beings against a fixed astronomical template—-vis., a stable Solar System—-so that we can expect people of different classes and genders, races and occupations to keep to separate orbits or “stations.” So in order to create a new morality, or more accurately an amorality, conservatives took classical economic theory, which eschews morality in favor of individual self-interest in economic affairs, and extended it to apply to the full spectrum of human affairs. The new paradigm says we can measure the political and social affairs of human beings against a template based on statistical physics. Now society consists of a number of “particles”—-individuals. Society’s performance can be calculated by averaging over the actions of the myriad individuals. The plight of individuals within the society may vary greatly, but what is important is what happens to the average. So no longer is it important to measure what happens to Bill or Nathaniel or Maria. What matters now is the average—-the wealth of nations. And whatever can be done to enhance the wealth of the nation, regardless of what happens to Bill or Nathaniel or Maria, is what ought to be done. Furthermore, what enhances the average is that every Bill and Nathaniel and Maria be energized to the max to pursue their own self-interest. So what it boils down to is that the conservatives traded in Copernicus and Galileo for Newton and Laplace. But the goal remained the same—-to justify the inequalities of society.

      What you end up with in the new conservative paradigm is a weird mix of Machiavellianism and Nihilism which, in the long run, I think most people will not find very fulfilling.

      1. bookit

        This is essentially how I see it, too. “Conservatives” today tend either to be utilitarians, who have rejected the formerly conservative idea of normative values in favor of “let the market decide,” or chauvinists who simply redefine values on the fly according to momentary national interest. Either way, they are closer to classic liberals than classic conservatives like Edmund Burke or Henry Adams. The fact that so many can take Glenn Beck’s loony “history lessons” seriously offers further evidence since it points to their lack of historical knowledge, and ahistoricism was another classic liberal prejudice. My personal favorites are the Social Darwinist creationists, however, since they probably take the cake for overall incoherence.

  3. Matt

    Bingo, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”
    As economic consolidation, especially of the US banking industry, continues the power is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands.
    Of course this begs the question, which came first? The power or the corruption?

    1. Toby

      My quick answer would be that concentrated power is corruption, thus concentrations of wealth and power are the cause. The deeper cause is then those mechanisms that prevent true democracy from operating, since only truly and systemically distributed wealth and power can prevent corruption. Money itself is at the heart of this, so what is at the heart of money? Scarcity and the deep, deep, deep notions we have of ourselves as separate from nature.

  4. Matt

    If one has not been exposed to the bank less society of Check cashing stores, title loan stores, and pay day loans it may come as a shock that they charge 10 percent to cash personal checks, 3 percent for payroll checks and usurious rates of interest. Or that they hire shills to make friends with old folks so that they get direct withdrawals from the social security deposit accounts.
    Now more and more employers are making payroll with debit cards. I haven’t figured out how people extract the rent money from them yet without ATM fees.
    Just saying the world on the other side of the tracks seems a lot more painful than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

  5. Toby

    Good to see confirmed that faith in TPTB is crumbling rapidly, that the breakdown is indeed undermining the thoroughly decadent status quo. I look forward to its spread across the planet, though Asia is going to be a tough sell.

    Important though is for us ordinary folk to wise up and begin defining the core parameters of a new way, a new system. My recommendation is post-scarcity, or resource-based economics, which proceed on the basis of cooperation and abundance, rather than a war of each against all and fundamental scarcity. Post-scarcity is not about growth though, but a steady state, carrying-capacity-aligned systems approach.

    Appreciating the connotations of such a system takes a lot of un-learning and the upending of most of our deeply ensconced and cherished beliefs, but if we want to move out of the morass we are mired in, we have to think boldly — how else are we going to do it? Insanity is repeating over and over the solution which doesn’t yield the desired result. Hence the way out is necessarily a new way, which must seem weird and offensive to most before wider acceptance is possible.

    1. F. Beard

      The problem is obviously the thieving banking and money system but everyone and his brother wants to blame it on something else to advance their pet agenda.

      Well, those other agendas WON’T work. As bad as our system is, it has beaten every other system including Nazism and Communism.

      Let’s move on to genuine capitalism and not start all over with God-knows-what.

      1. attempter

        What we have is genuine capitalism. Capitalism has been in the deployment stage long enough and universally enough that we know for a fact – whatever it always has been in reality, that’s what it is in reality. We know that every competitor stops competing and starts racketeering the second he’s able. That’s a proven fact.

        It’s the “capitalism” of the textbooks which is pure utopianism, where it’s not just an ideological fraud.

        1. F. Beard

          Capitalism has been in the deployment stage long enough and universally enough that we know for a fact – whatever it always has been in reality, that’s what it is in reality. attempter

          We have not had capitalism, we have had government backed competitive counterfeiting whose business model is to steal purchasing power via credit creation from the entire population including the poor.

          Gee wiz folks, our entire money system is based on systematic violation of “Thou shalt not steal”, one of the big Ten Commandments. How about we replace that with ETHICAL money creation and see how many problems go away?

          1. DownSouth

            “We have not had capitalism…”

            And we never shall have “capitalism,” the reason being that this much longed for heaven-on-earth does not exist. Capitalism, just like Marxism, is a utopian dream.

          2. DownSouth

            And I must say that, given your claim to be religious, I find your uncritical endorsement of capitalism puzzling.
            Let’s take this passage from Robert H. Nelson’s Economics as Religion as a starting point:

            [The] practical contributions of economists for the most part did not require any great scientific apparatus. The argument that “the market works” has been know for many centuries, even well before Adam Smith. It often amounts to little more than saying that a money system with prices for goods and services will outperform a barter system as an arrangement for their exchange—-something recognized by all kinds of societies and stated in many times and places before modern “technical” economics. Historically, the greatest obstacle to the market is not a failure to understand its workings. Rather, the larger obstacles lie in two forms. First, many people have objected to the market for moral and ethical reasons—-that is to say, they had strong religious (or quasi-religious) objections of one form or another to the wide scope for the expression of self-interest as found in the market. Second, the individual pursuit of opportunistic actions such as corruption and dishonest behavior—-creating a climate in which “trust” does not exist in society—-have the potential to undermine the efficient workings of markets.

            You seem to zero in on the latter obstacle, and gloss over the first.

            Nelson is mistaken when he asserts that the “moral and ethical reasons” in opposition to capitalism are from those who “had strong religious objections.” This is partial truth, as Thomas Jefferson was quick to point out:

            Some have made the love of God the foundation of morality… [But] if we did a good act merely from the love of God and a belief that it is pleasing to him, whence arises the morality of the Atheist[s[?]… Their virtue must have some other foundation.

            As Thomas E. Buckley explains in “The Political Theology of Thomas Jefferson”:

            For the exercise of conscience to be honest and therefore acceptable to God, it must rest on what the human mind accepts as true. “That belief [is] founded on [the] evidence offered to his mind: as things appear to himself, not to another.”


            In the early 1780s, he anguished over his limited success in obtaining freedom of belief and worried for the future of people’s rights once the Revolution was over. A “zealot” might come to power and begin a persecution; or society become corrupt and virtue lost as other interests, particularly a zest for “making money,” came to obsess Americans.

            At the core of capitalism stands homo economicus, that “calculating machine pursuing Prudence and Price and Profit and Property and Power,” as Deirdre McCloskey put it. But compare the greedy, selfish human being imagined by capitalism to Jefferson’s human being that he set out in a letter to John Law:

            Nature hath implanted in our breasts a love of others, a sense of duty to them, a moral instinct in short,… impelling us to virtuous actions, and warning us against those which are vicious.

            Conclusion: While it may be true that objections to capitalism are frequently religious, and that historically some of the most strident critics of capitalism have been Christians, the reason being that the tenets of capitalism are so diametrically opposed to those of Christianity, there are also overwhelming scientific and evidentiary reasons to object to capitalism.

        2. craazyman

          Sh-it man, sometimes I think you’re a bit nuts. But then you seem to always nail the heart of the issue.

          (A little like Ahab spearing Moby Dick. LOL)

          So true what you said. So true.

          AS it is written: “Where two or three are gathered together, there-so is the propensity to gang up and loot thy neighbor, as well as slay the Son of Man like a Passover Lam.” So says the Good Book plus the Profits.

      2. attempter

        What we have is genuine capitalism. Capitalism has been in the deployment stage long enough and universally enough that we know for a fact – whatever it always has been in reality, that’s what it is in reality. We know that every competitor stops competing and starts racketeering the second he becomes able. That’s a proven fact.

        It’s the “capitalism” of the textbooks which is pure utopianism, where it’s not just an ideological fraud.

      3. Toby

        Define genuine capitalism. Explain how it would prevent concentrations of power, concentrations which must lead to the exact entrenched corruption and social divisions that have beset every variant of capitalism seen thus far.

        If you refer to any of the mechanisms of perfect competition please know that you are describing a completely impossible world populated with cloned automatons ‘rationally’ and exclusively driven to maximize self-interest.

        1. F. Beard

          Define genuine capitalism. Toby

          Genuine capitalism MUST include genuine private money supplies.

          Explain how it would prevent concentrations of power, concentrations which must lead to the exact entrenched corruption and social divisions that have beset every variant of capitalism seen thus far. Toby

          Without the government backed counterfeiting cartels, the corporations would either have to borrow at genuine free market interest rates and/or issue common stock as money. Both would prevent excessive wealth concentration.

          As for the current wealth maldistribution, a general and equal bailout of the entire population with new debt and interest free full legal tender fiat would reverse much of that in relative terms.

          1. Toby

            “Private money supplies” are debt-money, money created as debt with interest due, in pursuit of profit. The capitalism we have now and have always had includes and included private money creation. But this single component is hardly a definition of ‘genuine’ capitalism. Furthermore, to create money privately there must be state sanction to do so, otherwise it would be counterfeiting. It must therefore be government backed one way or another. Market and State are inseparable.

            How do you prevent competition and pursuit of profit from becoming cartel/oligopoly power? Competition implies winners and losers. How do you prevent the winners from become powerful enough to corrupt govt and market alike? Adam Smith complained of cartel power in Wealth of Nations, so it’s hardly new. While society is driven by profit maximization and corporation remain legal persons obliged to grow forever, corporations will do whatever they can to bend whatever rules anyone can write, or will lobby govt to create the kinds of rules corporations prefer. How do you prevent this? If you say with laws, or an expression such as ‘it must be that’, then you’re missing the point. Precisely because competition cannot be perfect, it will therefore inexorably and inevitably lead to concentrations of power, as indeed it has done throughout history.

            We have now legally the situation you describe. Government is in fact allowed to print debt-free money, but doesn’t — banks control the debate — printing money is inflationary, everyone knows that! In the meantime private money-creation does supply the economy with unbelievable amounts of money, and there’s the rub. So if we had a debt jubilee and reset the system, we would thereafter simply head off in the same direction we’re currently headed in, with growth again given full head on a planet that cannot support it. Why do that? Why make the same mistake? Just because ‘capitalism beat communism’? I need a better reason. I need to be convinced, as far as such is possible, that a system is sustainable before I support and promote it. Growth for its own sake does not interest me. Consumption for its own sake does not interest me.

          2. Maju

            “Private money supplies” are impossible, unless you’re working on a consensus reference merchandise such as gold or cattle. And even then, you’d need public law and law enforcement to protect private property.

            Money is by definition something created (or endorsed) by the state and does not exist otherwise. It is a variant of your usual ration card: a ration card that can be traded and circulated and can buy anything on offer – but a ration card in any case, whose value is only upheld by state sanction.

            In Somalia, the paradise of right-wing libertarians (ultra-liberals), nobody issues money privately, they use hard currencies like the US dollar or the euro. Alternatives can be gold or cattle or other merchandises but there is no known case of “privately issued money” because that is simply impossible and has never existed anywhere in true form.

            “Without the government backed counterfeiting cartels”…

            Corporations would become the state. There would be no difference whatsoever, only that they’d lack the legitimacy of being elected by the citizens.

            For monopolistic corporations is generally better to keep a pretense of legitimacy by allowing a pretense of democracy to hide their real power, which would have serious legitimacy problems if they’d exert it directly. For that reason BP needs a Barack Obama and NOAA to cover their backs while they murder US citizens and destroy the Ocean, for that reason Rockefeller and co. do not want to be perceived as the ones really running the show but they prefer to keep a more discreet place as shadow advisors and master puppeteers, where they cannot so easily become the target of rightful citizen anger.

          3. sid_finster

            “What we have now isn’t Genuine Capitalism(tm)” resembles over-educated leftists trying to argue that What the Soviet Union has was not “Genuine Communism(c).”

          4. Maju

            It was not communism: communism is defined by suppression of the state, the USSR was degenerate authoritarian socialism (in the stage of socialism the state still exists, degenerate refers to the usurpation of the popular power by a bureaucratic elite, which eventually became capitalist elite).

            However capitalism is genuine as-it-is because, unlike communism, it is not the product of any dream or political planning but of quasi-spontaneous organization of the productive forces by a greed-motivated master class (originally traders and bankers, now mostly the same thing). I say “quasi-spontaneous” because in most cases it has been organized with state help anyhow, as the national bourgeoisies were too weak to do it themselves. In the 19th century that drive expressed itself as nationalism, in the 20th century did as socialism.

            Socialism is generally auxiliary to Capitalism and confusing it with, so far unreal, Communism is stupid. Just that some communists were driven to believe that Socialism was transitional towards Communism. I have yet to see that.

      4. DownSouth

        F. Bears said: “As bad as our system is, it has beaten every other system…”

        Nah. As Hannah Arendt wrote in On Revolution:

        Wealth and economic well-being, we have asserted, are the fruits of freedom, while we should have been the first to know that this kind of ‘happiness’ was the blessing of America prior to the Revolution, and that its cause was natural abundance under ‘mild government’, and neither political freedom nor the unchained, unbridled ‘private initiative’ of capitalism, which in the absence of natural wealth has led everywhere to unhappiness and mass poverty. Free enterprise, in other words, has been an unmixed blessing only in America, and it is a minor blessing compared with the truly political freedoms, such as freedom of speech and thought, of assembly and association, even under the best conditions.

      5. Ina Deaver

        “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but their conversation often ends in a conspiracy against the public.” That’s Adam Smith.

        I’d say that what he have is real capitalism, and it is not as though its flaws, or those of humanity at large, come as any surprise. Where we go from that knowledge is what counts.

      6. Lidia

        FatBeard, you know everything you hate about Fractional Reserve Lending? Well, capitalism is a perfect analogue of FRL, except using real stuff.

        I give you 100 units of “capital” (real stuff), and you’re supposed to give me back 105 units of real stuff, Where do the extra 5 units come from? How long do we keep expecting to get 105% out of the system, year after year, as it continually expands exponentially?

        Can’t happen. Capitalism cannot function in a system with stable or declining per capita energy and material resource inputs. We need to quit worshiping at the altar of capitalism and figure out a somewhat sensible and equitable way to de-industrialize and do with much, much less, or suffer the inevitable war, waste and mass starvation. If I were world dictator, a one-child per couple policy would be an excellent start.

        1. F. Beard

          I give you 100 units of “capital” (real stuff), and you’re supposed to give me back 105 units of real stuff, Where do the extra 5 units come from? How long do we keep expecting to get 105% out of the system, year after year, as it continually expands exponentially? Lidia

          Without recourse to the government backed counterfeiting cartels then corporations would be FORCED via market pressure to issue new common stock rather than borrow traditional money, I would bet.

          Common stock as money requires no borrowing, no fractional reserves, no PMs and no profit taking. Since it requires no debt, common stock as money does not require growth to pay interest charges. The parasitical bankers are thus cut out of the loop.

    2. attempter

      For me, scarcity is an artificial, relative phenomenon, and post-scarcity means post-capitalist and post-consumerist.

      As for absolute scarcity that could ensue post-fossil fuels, the best way to overcome it is to embark upon a movement of individual and cooperative food production (with a usufruct-based land distribution) using diversified organic practices, which are proven to be the most productive.

      That will maximize both production and economic democracy.

      1. Toby

        Exactly, post-capitalist and post-consumerist. Abundance arises out of an attitude of sharing, it is in no way about childish grasping for more and more. It’s not about infinite supplies of everything, and growth, growth, growth! it’s about cooperation and egalitarianism, both of which humanity has known, and for the vast majority of its time on earth. In some ways we are tasked with transitioning back to earlier modes, though I believe in a new form, hopefully a wiser one. Humanity has learned much.

        Carrying-capacity must be priority one, especially considering the size of our global population, but perhaps more importantly the laws of nature generally, even though a definitive sense of what the planet’s capacity is will probably never materialize. What we can accomplish as a species with this priority systemically in place is close to impossible to judge though, so I don’t like to prescribe too tightly what form or shape a post-scarcity society ought to take, only that its first priority should be resources and nature’s capacity to renew itself.

    3. nowhereman

      Totally agree, but it’s just taking too long. How bad does it really have to get before we the people recognize that greed isn’t necessarily that good.

      1. Toby

        In my darker moments I think we’ve failed already. We’re just too well dumbed-down, too hypnotized, too entranced.

        The only way through this is via collapse. The question is, will we achieve wise and intelligence consensus across the planet post-collapse? That’s a very tall order. Or, will the collapse be so brutal that we die out? 99% of all species that ever lived are now extinct, so the odds don’t look good. That said, if the movies are anything to go by, million to one shots pay off nine times out of ten, so there’s that. ;-)

        We should just film ourselves at it! That oughtta work…

        1. Anomar

          Well, I have a lot of dark moments lately for lots of good reasons.

          I agree that it is looking like the only way humans will change is under extreme threat.

          However, I don’t think we will be eliminated entirely and that is actually worrisome. Will Earth heal herself when our numbers dwindle to practically nothing, only to have to face our insatiable desires a few thousand years in the future all over again?

          The reality is that our species went through a near extinction event around 50,000 years ago as we emerged from the Ice Age with a brand new language and new tools.

          We ended up here.

          We were cooperative beings until capitalism wed patriarchy, then all hell broke loose.

          We are paying for our refusal to accept that humans lived far differently between that bottleneck and 3,000 plus years ago.

          We’ve been told there has never been anything else but greed and war. Most of us believe it.

          Too bad. That guarantees more greed and war.

          1. Ellen Anderson

            I agree with you that nothing will change until things get a lot worse for a lot more people. It would be nice to think that, by that time, everyone will understand what went wrong. I would hate to think that the history of our times will be written by our Cargo Cult Congress and their Cultist in Chief.

            I could not believe that travesty last night. Got rid of TV long ago but I couldn’t even listen to it for long! There they are, chanting away up on the mountain with their growth machine waiting for the money gods to come back.

            Revoke Corporate Charters – especially Monsanto, Bayer and the Banks!

            Cheers – Lynn

          2. Lidia

            This is in response to Ellen)
            “Revoke Corporate Charters”

            Absolutely. This is a huge blind spot. I have wasted no end of time arguing with my RWNJ sister that businesses are LICENSED and that they operate at the pleasure of the community. That they used to have designated life-spans. No, no, no, she says… corporations have all the rights that humans do and Citizens United was a blow struck for FREEDOM!!


            All I can hope for is that people get so broke that the corporations effectively starve.

            I had a lady telling us on a forum how we could “go green” with some “Green Solutions Wipes” or some product by Clorox, I think.


            That’s the problem right there: “wipes”.

            People have always wiped things; it’s only recently that we have been trained to buy “wipes”.

            Sooner or later people will just realize that “wipes” don’t fit into their budget. It will probably be too late by then to make any great difference, but… I wonder if the Clorox people are planning for that day.

      2. Lidia

        nowhereman, I decided that there is truly no hope when we visited some friends the other night for dinner. They are older, with a failed business behind them, though I don’t know what the state of their debts are. They have a fairly large house, which used to be heated with propane until 2 years ago, when they failed to pay the propane guy, so he now won’t deliver to them.

        No worries, they’ll just turn on a bunch of electric heaters and burn wood in the fireplace. Never mind that the fireplace is mostly decorative, and that all the heat just goes right up the chimney. Since we had a couple of trees cut down on our property, they have been going through that wood (now soaking wet), not having had the sense to ask us for it during the summer. When they are not wasting our charity wood, they buy wood (guess where?) AT THE SUPERMARKET where it is sold at a ridiculous retail price, instead of just selling off any one of their pieces of jewelry or ivory carvings or guns or silver services and getting a truckload of dry wood delivered, buying an efficient wood stove or fireplace insert, or better yet, moving to a two-room flat instead of staying in the Italian verson of a McMansion (ugly 1970s multi-level detached house made of cement).

        They will keep on going like this, extending and pretending, even in the face of real need. I tell them they are crazy doing what they are doing, and they even agree, but they keep on doing it. They are just going to coast off the cliff like Thelma and Louise, rather than put the brakes on. It’s like their transmission just does not have a reverse, and they’re consuming MORE energy now that they have LESS!!

  6. notexactlyhuman

    Your “average joe” thinks that welfare (the poor) is the root of all the countries woes. I should give you my Facebook password for a week or two so that you can observe in real time what 300 mid-western lower middle-class, working poor, and destitute are thinking about throughout a given day. It is disheartening, discouraging, disgusting. The heart of America is populated by savage, cruel, cannibalistic hyenas.

    1. DownSouth

      A consistent pessimism in regard to man’s rational capacity for justice invariably leads to absolutistic political theories; for they prompt the conviction that only preponderant power can coerce the various vitalities of a community into a working harmony.


      The consistent optimism of our liberal culture has prevented modern democratic societies both from gauging the perils of freedom accurately and from appreciating democracy fully as the only alternative to injustice and oppression. When this optimism is not qualified to accord with the real and complex facts of human nature and history, there is always a danger that sentimentality will give way to despair and that a too consistent optimism will alternate with a too consistent pessimism.
      –Reinhold Niebuhr, “The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness”

    2. John

      How destitute can they be if they have facebook accounts?
      That means electricity and a computer.

      I think it is an upbringing thing. If a person moves to a region where people are very different, it usually takes years to rub off on them, if ever.

      So in that sense you may be right. Some parts of the country are downright mean and the majority of people living there are that way.

  7. Lyle

    This poll is one side of the political divide, the other is distrust of government. Basically people have lost trust in all institutions, including the Media, who of course only care if you view their ads. This lack of trust is probably a good thing, had people known that the mortgage broker did not care if they could pay off the loan, they might have gotten other advice. Perhaps people should learn to ask where the salesperson gets his money, and do like the media do with scientists, assuming anyone who gets funding from industry has sold out.
    IN fact the political divide is who do you trust least government (if so join the tea party) or business (join the left populist side of society).
    More and more people may become convinced that paranoia is a good way to go because everyone is really out to get you.

    1. BondsOfSteel

      I think the bailouts showed there’s common ground. Both sides hate them. One because it’s a give away to corporations… and the other because it’s from the goverment.

      Maybe as it becomes clearer about the level of influence of big business on goverment, we call all find something to hate.

  8. Nikhil Varma

    Has genuine capitalism in any country been successful in seeping down a share of wealth to the lowest level. No, like Toby said concentrated Power is/ or leads way to corruption.

  9. Mike M

    If we’re going to talk about big institutions, let’s not forget the damage the church scandals have done to the average schmoe’s faith in authority all over the western world, probably bleeding over into attitudes about government and industry.

  10. Irrevocable Outcomes

    Bush failed to directly address the millions that are unemployed and losing their homes, but he did offer the hope of “Sputnik”.
    Additionally, support is given to the tyrannical dictatorship in Egypt and once again steps have been taken to crush “democracy” in the poorest country on the planet.

  11. Elliot X

    The excerpt below is from an article at exiledonline, entitled: “All Pain, No Gain: A Brief History of “Austerity Program” Massacres & Disasters”

    “Since we’re so shamelessly obsequious already, why not just come out and admit that the word “courageous” means “anything a billionaire ever says or does or approves of”? It’s only a matter of time before we’ll be reading articles that will look like this:

    “WITCHITA, KS (AP) — Charles Koch isn’t afraid to tell it like it is in order to get things done. Last week, when Mr. Koch ordered his butlers to wipe the specks of dust off of his shoes before f**king off out of his face or he’ll have them sleeping in cardboard boxes for the rest of their short miserable lives, some were outraged by the free-market billionaire’s bold, courageous choice of words. Sure, it didn’t win Koch many friends among his staff of servants, but Mr. Koch doesn’t believe that running a billionaire estate is about pandering to his servants. That would be too easy–and would lead his servants down the road to serfdom. For their sake and for the sake of freedom, Koch courageously explained, what mattered most was getting that speckle of dust off his shoes before Justice Scalia arrived for a game of croquet. This reporter, for one, was so impressed by Mr. Koch’s courage that he felt impelled to kneel down on the floor and lick Mr. Koch’s shoes—where this reporter observed the tongue-prints of many an enterprising reporter, economist and think-tank analyst before him, proof that most reasonable people today agree that Mr. Koch’s shoes taste like courage.” *

    Indeed. By this logic, if they’re the courageous ones, then that means that the opposite of courage is we, the cowardly masses of lazy slobs, who need to be whipped into shape with a steady lashing of the “austerity” whip…..”

    to continue reading:

    1. ScottS

      Holy cow, I read this article ( on that site — wow! It really does explain a lot.

      Can Tea Partiers really be knowingly voting against their own best interests out of spite? Can liberals be wrong that if right-wingers just understood the “truth”, they would act differently? Is ours a spite-based political system?

      1. Patrice

        Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr: Haiti mass-torturer “Brings message of hope to People”

        Haiti’s Former President Brings Message of Hope to People
        Barr, Marger, Puglise to Represent Duvalier

        Friday, January 21, 2011 at 5:00 PM

        Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Friday, January 21, 2011 — Former Congressman Bob Barr, with Attorneys Ed Marger of Jasper, Georgia and Mike Puglise of Snellville, Georgia, joined former Haitian President Jean-Claude Duvalier in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, as Duvalier issued his first public statement upon returning to Haiti for the first time since he left the country in 1986.

        Duvalier explained that the love for his country and the heartbreak he shared with all Haitians over the devastation wrought by last year’s massive earthquake, overcame the risks he knew he would face by returning to Haiti at this time. He also urged all Haitians, but especially the young people, to take leadership and raise the country from the ashes like a Phoenix.

        Duvalier also stated that Barr, Marger and Puglise will be representing him in bringing his message of hope to the world.

      2. Patrice

        Haiti must investigate Jean-Claude Duvalier rights violation claims (the same Duvalier who, according to Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr, brings a message of hope to the people of Haiti)

        Throughout his 15 years in power (1971-1986) systematic torture, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances were widespread across Haiti.

        Hundreds of people “disappeared” or were extrajudicially executed. Members of Haiti’s armed forces and the militia National Security Volunteers – also known as the “tonton macoutes” –played a primary role in repressing pro-democracy and human rights activists. The “tonton macoutes” were disbanded in 1986 after Jean-Claude Duvalier went into exile.

  12. Hugh

    Davos should be outlawed. All that hot air must contribute to global warming. I don’t think our kleptocrats care whether they are loved as long as they can steal. You have to wonder though under what rocks those 25% have been living who still have a favorable opinion of banks.

    1. Externality

      Most such conferences go something like this:

      Hundreds of elites travel to the conference on their own private jets, travel via motorcade to luxury hotels, and settle down in their luxury suites. Then, over gourmet twelve course dinners, they listen to their fellow elites decry the way that average people consume too much food and emit too much carbon. After issuing a conference statement decrying average peoples’ greedy, wasteful behavior and urging drastic limitations on individual consumption, they travel via motorcade and private jet back to their mansions.

  13. F. Beard

    “Private money supplies” are debt-money, money created as debt with interest due, in pursuit of profit. Toby

    No. Not necessarily. Common stock as money is debt and interest free. It shares wealth at the same time as it consolidates it for economies of scale. Assets and labor would simply be bought with new stock issue. The products of the corporation would be sold for its own common stock money. Notice that not a gram of PMs is required.

    The above is an example of genuine capitalism.

    Then why isn’t common stock as money used today? Because everyone is compelled by one means or another to borrow and use Federal Reserve Notes. Some of those means include:

    1. Legal tender laws for private debts.
    2. The acceptance of FRNs for taxes.
    3. The income tax where income is measured in FRNs.
    4. The capital gains tax on potential private monies alternatives including common stock.
    5. The FDIC and lender of last resort, the Fed.

    No we do NOT have genuine capitalism. We have Banker fascism.

    The problem is a government enforced money monopoly.

    1. Toby

      How do you prevent ‘genuine’ capitalism from being corrupted by its star business successes? Are you positing perfect competition?

      I’m not sure I’ve understood your ideas though, nor do I see them defining capitalism. Is common stock private money, or is it issued by the state? Is the issue of corporate stock to pay for assets and labour a debt issue? Is the stock to be redeemed, does it pay a dividend? If redeemed, in what form? More stock? If the stock pays a dividend, in more stock? How does this work?

      With private money competing against private money for profit — it must be about profit somewhere along the line — how can we prevent one from winning out, becoming dominant? Are we to limit success? If stock is used as a medium of exchange, and corporations need investment from the public to issue stock, are they accepting their competitor’s stock as money? Furthermore, they are going to be in competition with each other to offer the sweetest deals to get people to ‘buy’ their stock (with what?), but also actually to pay out as little as possible to stay profitable, to win. Just because a ‘bank’ isn’t issuing the medium of exchange is just a cosmetic change. Corruption is built in to competition when failure means abject poverty.

      But all that aside, in the end the only argument I’m aware of that even tries to explain how profit maximization benefits society is the invisible hand, which is a myth, a fairy tale. Capitalism is all about leveraging capital to maximize profit and the competition this inspires. While society is oriented along these lines, while we continue to assume that Hand, The Invisible takes care of our messes, the money system is largely irrelevant over time — and do we really want to reignite growth? — unless we have a money system that can systemically prioritize sustainability. Which would not be capitalism, since it prioritizes profit.

      From all I have studied, read and thought about our situation, growth and profit are the wrong motivations since they cannot deliver sustainability across the planet. Anything else is insane, and we really are running out of time.

      1. F. Beard

        From all I have studied, read and thought about our situation, growth and profit are the wrong motivations since they cannot deliver sustainability across the planet. Anything else is insane, and we really are running out of time. Toby

        According to the Bible, profit is good yet TAKING profits is condemned:

        word search of “profit” in the Bible

        interest and taking profits condemned

        I note that common stock as money requires neither interest nor dividends (profit taking) nor debt nor PMs nor fractional reserves. What else could one want?!

        And no, the government would not issue common stock; it would simple spend and tax its own fiat and in that order too. And that fiat would only be legal tender for debts to government not private ones.

        Folks, what we have is a self-appointed government backed elite who MAKE money that the rest of us must EARN. They can be cut out of the loop if we choose to do so.

        As for growth, once the counterfeiting cartels are abolished, I would bet that steady, sustainable growth would be rule.

        1. Toby

          To me you are not describing capitalism, since that model is all about maximizing profit. What you seek is egalitarian democracy, if I may be so bold. How do we ensure that outcome sustainably? I don’t see how money can help us any more in this regard, unless I’m missing something of course.

          Why is money a problem? Because it is a fundamental distortion on demand, since only demand backed by money is effective. It has unnecessary divisions built into it. It inspires us in the wrong direction; differential advantage. Furthermore, with money you must have rich and poor, scarcity too as far as I can tell, and competition, so the whole thing starts over again more or less as it was. We can’t afford a reboot here. The planet cannot take it.

          I held roughly the position you lay out for a long time (though I don’t call it capitalism), but now I’m circling back further. What economics ought to be about, I believe, is the wisest possible distribution of the fruits of human ingenuity. Or, put in another way, the steady state provision of a sustainable life-ground on which effective freedom can be enjoyed by all humans everywhere. This is not about eradication of all problems or struggle, it’s just a sensible goal which is fundamentally different to “Profit + The Invisible Hand.” If money in some form is necessary to achieve this more reasonable goal, then so be it, then let’s define that money. On the other hand, if money can only obstruct us in this objective, we must accept that. Let’s be dispassionate about this and put the horse before the cart. Which tools do we really need to get the job done?

          1. F. Beard

            Who are you calling fat? “I’m just big boned.”

            “steady, sustainable growth” is an oxymoron. Get used to it!

            What you are used to is 317+ years of fractional reserve banking, apparently.

    2. Mighty Booosh

      So pay in Euros, or Rubles, or Shekels.

      Chasing a magic unicorn looks to be the order of the day. I wish the people behind the Amero would hurry up and roll it out.

      1. F. Beard

        Chasing a magic unicorn looks to be the order of the day. Mighty Booosh

        If justice and liberty seem magic to you, well, I suppose they are. Then why don’t we pursue them?

    3. Jeff65

      Fiat currency can already be viewed as common stock issued by the government (of the people, right?) for public purpose. The trick is to actually issue it for public purpose rather than to serve special interests. A good start would be to recognise that companies do not issue debt to fund stock issuance. The government doesn’t need to do so either.

      I don’t see how changing to a private system of money fixes that problem. A bunch of competing private interests do not ensure a public good.

      1. F. Beard

        A good start would be to recognise that companies do not issue debt to fund stock issuance. The government doesn’t need to do so either. jeff65

        Indeed not. The government should never borrow, lend or sell its money for other monies. It should just spend and tax and in that order too.

        I don’t see how changing to a private system of money fixes that problem. jeff65

        There would be no system; only perfect opportunity for genuine private currencies.

        A bunch of competing private interests do not ensure a public good. jeff65

        There are no guarantees of that. But at least we can quit hobbling the good with a fascist money system.

  14. financial matters

    This seems like a reasonable place to make this comment… This is from an editorial I read last May.. Not to pick on Minnesota as everyone seems to be doing it…

    I was just reading this op-ed piece in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and it seems emblematic of the pervasive problems of trying to deal with a public budget such as kicking the can down the road, using accounting tricks, nobody wanting to make tough choices and political gridlock.. It has to do with a late night session last night trying to balance the Minnesota budget…

    “”(It increased the school payment delay imposed last year from $1.7 billion to $1.9 billion and offered only a claim against any future state surpluses to put the payments back on schedule””

    By doing the above they claim they didn’t cut school funding.. But how are these schools supposed to deal with in reality coming up $2 billion dollars short? Are they supposed to tell teachers that we’d like you to work for us and if the state happens to do well over the next few years maybe we can even pay you??

    “”The agreements most disappointing omission was its failure to seize an opportunity presented by the new federal health reform law to bring $1.4 billion in new money to Minnesota in the next three years.

    That much was available for moving 100,000 of the state’s poorest citizens from state-funded health care programs to Medicaid, a 43-year old program financed with a 50-50 state-federal match. The move had much to recommend it: the creation or preservation of 21,000 private-sector health care jobs; improved access to health care services for a needy population; a reduction in the uncompensated care costs that are often passed on to people with private insurance, and an ability to apply cost-containment strategies to a bigger share of the health care market.

    To make the switch to Medicaid, Minnesota’s costs for the affected population would have increased $188 million over three years.

    The offer ought to have been seen as too good to pass up. But in the words of one gubernatorial candidate this would imply “opting into Obamacare” “”

  15. F. Beard

    So if we had a debt jubilee and reset the system, we would thereafter simply head off in the same direction we’re currently headed in, with growth again given full head on a planet that cannot support it. Toby

    The bailout should be combined with a 100% reserve requirement on the banks to put them out of the counterfeiting business and to preclude an inflationary spiral. And after the debt has cleared, then genuine, fundamental reform in money creation should be implemented including separate government and private money supplies.

    Bailout followed by fundamental reform should be the plan.

  16. Scarecrow

    Clinton’s campaign manager, Jame Carville,, authored “it’s the economy, stupid,” to remind himself to keep his candidate on message.

    Also, the level of disenchantment does not appear to be doing anything for pitchfork sales. I would see a bubble there as a leading indicator.

  17. DumpTheBankInfoJulian

    I want to know who make up the 33% who still trust the banks??? My bet: it is the members of Wall Street that still trust themselves.

  18. Sunny

    What the average Joe/Jane thinks or opines is immaterial in a World ruled by Global Financial oligarchy through Corporatocracy or Klepotocracy!

    2% of America controlling 80+% of wealth in America is calling the shots irrespective the party or the Bozo elected at WH. Democracy in America is a charade!

    Just depressing!

  19. ChrisPacific

    Re: average Joes, the details of the crisis may be too complex for most of the public but I think they can tell that the current economy doesn’t pass the smell test. Businesses have always come first in the USA, at least in recent history, but there’s also a strong cultural presumption that success for business and success for individuals go hand in hand. That’s the link that seems to have broken down at present, with financial sector businesses making record profits at a time when unemployment is sky high and many people are fearful about the future.

    More and more workers are waking up to the fact that a huge sector of the business community doesn’t need them, doesn’t care about them, and wouldn’t try to save them if they fell under a bus – in fact they’d be more likely to create structured finance products to generate profit from bus-related fatalities.

  20. Hoi Polloi

    The banksters don’t give a rat’s @ss what the American think. They smile at the polls, lite another cigar and just proceed what they did, playing casino with other people’s money. And they will continue as long as they can keep the US guvmint hostage.

    Heads I win, Tails you loose.

    Bill Black for President!

  21. aletheia33

    “public banking in america: washington state joins a national movement”:

    the common good bank website:


    “we designed Common Good Bank™ as the framework for a community-based democratic economic system that can also compete effectively within the current economic system. This design combines the spirit of a credit union with the power and growth potential of a stock savings bank.
    Any geographic community can have its own democratically-guided virtual bank, simply as a cooperative depositor group within Common Good Bank. Deposits, investments, and profits will be tracked separately for each community. All profits from the community’s investments will go to schools and other nonprofits as decided by the members.
    It’s our community. It’s our bank. It’s our future. Real democracy. Real money. Real power.”

  22. Max424

    The Japanese feeling pretty darn good about their banking system these days, despite the fact that their country’s debt-to-GDP ratio is tickling 200%. Interesting.

    Of course, Japan’s citizens own most of the nation’s debt. Perhaps that’s the magic formula, internal debt keeping, the “shared perpetual debt build-up;” or “the Ponzi Scheme — as a national collective.”

    Hey, it seems to be working. Japan — doing ok, and certainly doing a heck-of-a-lot better than the United States. And maybe some of that relative thinking is influencing the poll; citizens in Japan — and around the world — are looking at the US financial sector and saying to themselves, “Wow! Look at the unbridled corruption at the highest levels in that exploited and leaderless country! Aren’t we lucky!”

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